St Joseph’s joins the ‘Surplus to Purpose’ campaign to reduce wasted food

We are delighted to be the third school in England and the first in the South of England to be taking part in the ‘Surplus to Purpose’ campaign with the Thomas Franks Foundation, the charitable arm of our catering company. ‘Surplus to Purpose’ provides meals for those in need from left over ingredients, which would otherwise be destined for landfill.

To kick off this initiative, representatives from Thomas Franks and Surplus to Purpose led a fascinating whole College assembly full of shocking facts about the amount of food which is wasted each year. They explained that the total quantity of food wasted – 4.5 million tonnes a year – could fill eight Wembley Stadiums.

We learnt that the top three foods which are wasted are potatoes, bread and soft drinks. They invited pupils to guess the quantities of certain staple foods wasted daily and we learned that these include:

20 million slices of bread;

4.4 million potatoes;

3.1 million glasses of milk;

2.2 million carrots.

To demonstrate that ‘best before’ dated food can still be eaten and taste good, all meals in College contained ingredients which Surplus to Purpose had prevented going to landfill.

Chef, Dean, showed pupils a 15lb bag of popcorn which was surplus to the needs of a cinema and would have been going to landfill. He told the excited audience that they would be eating it for their breaktime snack! He also announced that, at lunch, the tomato sauce accompanying the burgers, 80 percent of the salad, the peaches in the peach mousse and the brown bread would be made from Surplus to Purpose ingredients.

The Surplus to Purpose team encouraged the pupils to discuss the issue of food waste with their families and friends and endeavour to play their part in tackling the food waste problem.

Feedback from the pupils on the initiative was positive and there were lots of empty plates at lunchtime!


“It is a really good idea and a great use of resources…I think more schools could and should do this.” Olivia, Year 13

“Food was really good and it helps stop food waste” Tavonga, Year 8

“ A lot of people don’t have food and we don’t want to waste it” Abraham, Year 8


Joining the Surplus to Purpose campaign is the College’s first step to becoming a school which is ‘sustainable in food’. We have also supported Thomas Franks’ ‘Feeding Communities’ initiative which was set up during the pandemic to feed communities in need. Through the pandemic we supplied meals to the Churches in Reading Drop in Centre and every Tuesday our Bursar, Mr Leggett, continues to drive soup, made in our kitchen by Thomas Franks from surplus ingredients, to Reading Faith Christian Group Food Bank, at the Minster.  As a result of our Surplus to Purpose day we have been able to donate £1500 to the Feeding Communities charity.

Next week we will be launching ‘We Grow, You Grow’ with Thomas Franks and building a garden with raised beds to grow our own vegetables. Our Prep pupils will be joined by children from our partner state schools, to learn about where food comes from and how to grow it successfully.

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